Mothers are supposed to be soft, gentle, loving, kind, affectionate and warm.
News flash; my mother is none of these. She is hard, unkind, bitter and very stingy and would you believe, I am her only child.
I may not really know why she was like that to me; I don’t remember her being like that when I was growing up. She was a good woman back then; at least I remember that much until I was about 10 years old when my father suddenly died, then she became a harridan. It was as if the light in her eyes just went out.
My mother took daddy’s death hard, she just shut down and didn’t take any interest in the things that concerned me.
I am her only child; I also lost a father, a loving father for that matter. I was daddy’s girl. His special person and yet, I got no comfort from my mum when the man passed.
I practically raised myself; I remember the first few weeks after my father passed, after all the relatives that had come to stay with us left; when life began to be just about mother and I. The first rude awakening was mum firing our two house helps; we had a maid and a cook. Mother said we couldn’t afford to keep them, she said my father left us poor.
I was 10, I didn’t know anything about money but I knew I had to start doing things for myself; I had to start cleaning, cooking and running errands for my mother. It was difficult at first because many times my mother would just blow her top over little things like dirty dishes in the sink and un-swept living room and beat me silly. Yes, she began to beat me real hard.
I did my own cooking, kept the house most days; when we had power outage, if mother wasn’t around, I would remain in the dark until she returned and many times, she returned late into the night.
I learned to start preempting her, I would dash around the house to see things she might complain about and quickly fix them; of course, I never saw everything, so I got beaten.
My mother pulled me out of the school I was attending. What was her excuse, she couldn’t afford to put me in that school because it was expensive; I ended up going to secondary school in a government college at Oregun. My mother never showed up during open day.
You know, if she had taken time to explain to me, to let me understand our living condition, maybe I wouldn’t have been so traumatized. But she just always came up with commands; ‘you will stop lessons today, we don’t have money’; ‘you will go to government school, we don’t have money’; ‘you will soak garri this afternoon, we don’t have money’, ‘you will wear your old dresses, we don’t have money.’
My mother never cared if I came home early or late; if I joined up with a bad gang or not; if I began my menses at 12 years or not; if by age 14, I already had a boyfriend and was contemplating having sex with him or not because at that time, my mates were giving boys in our class blowjobs after school. And yes, these were things that actually happened to me.
It was a classmate who helped me buy my first pad; same classmate taught me how to use it; a classmate who told me I could do anal sex, because it was not real sex since my virginity was intact…I learned all these at 14!
Maybe it was my father’s spirit helping me, maybe it was actually the fear of being beaten that kept me straight; I remained a decent human being and by the time I finished school at 16, I had still managed to keep myself from sleeping around…yes, a few bjs here and there, I mean, everyone was doing it, the girls in my class, our seniors too, SS1 to SS3, it was common and so, I did.
I passed my WAEC and JAMB, but mother did not even celebrate me; she just said she could afford Babcock or Covenant, that I should go to UI. I said, ‘yes, ma.’ because I didn’t want to be in Lagos with her.
The relationship between me and my mother had become strained…of course.
Now, as I grew older, I realised we were not exactly poor; we lived in the house my father built; my mother lived well, in the sense that, you couldn’t see her and think she was poor. I would go into her wardrobe and take things and she wouldn’t even know they were gone! She travelled abroad annually for so called medical checkup.
How could we be poor?
Whenever I asked her about these things, she would say my father left nothing for us, she had to make money herself. Ok even so, what about me? I am your child, am I not? She would tell me she was doing her best for me.
Anyway, year after, more than 15 years after my father passed, I came across several documents, several files…my father didn’t leave us poor, he left us rich, very rich in fact; with landed property, with shares in big companies, mutual funds for me…I was paralyzed with emotion.
When I began to trace the monies, the shares, the property in Lagos, Ibadan and even Abuja, I found mother had sold the Abuja one, it was just one plot but worth over N100million. She had squandered the money; she had sold some shares, she had run through most of the wealth my father left for us.
Why would my own mother do this to me?
When I confronted mother, she said they were all hers as she suffered with my father to get these things.
I got a lawyer; we dug deep; we found dad left his wealth to me. We found out that though he left lots for mother, she had squandered them over the years. I got a lawyer to put a stop to her insane spend.
Naturally, my mother fought back, she accused me of everything under the earth, claiming she did her best for me.
I sent her packing out of the house and relocated her to one of father’s houses in Ibadan! She is not to come to Lagos unless I say so. I have taken over the accounts and she survives on only what I give her. Unlike, her though, I am more generous.
She is in Ibadan, living her life and hating me every day. I have begun to put my father’s estate in order, I’ve lost a lot because mother didn’t care much about these things but I have been able to sell some shares and start my own business. I have no intention of being as wasteful as my mother. And I will not let many people know I gave good money, no, because I want a husband who will love me for me and not for my money!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)